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San Diego Personal Injury Law Blog

3 toddlers die in fatal accident; parents get a gift of love

California can lay claim to one of the more unique accident stories in recent times. It started off with a horrendous tragedy that unfortunately occurs daily in this state and nationwide. A mother was in her minivan sitting in backed-up traffic on an Orange County highway when a heavily weighed down industrial rig barreled into them going 55 mph. Her three children, two girls and a boy, ages 2, 4 and 5, died as a result of the fatal accident.

The driver of the rig was sentenced to a year in jail. Although not clearly reported, it is likely that the parents settled with the trucking company for a very large amount reflecting the wrongful death value of three young lives. The prospect of a large settlement likely reflects the need for trucking companies to carry excess insurance to cover this very kind of catastrophe.

Lawsuit: Failure to diagnose sepsis causes 3 amputations

The failure to properly determine a patient's medical condition is very often the leading reason behind a medical malpractice claim in California and other states. Such claims may be characterized as a failure to diagnose or as a misdiagnosis. When medical care is provided that misses the mark and is not relevant to the patient's actual condition, or when care is totally omitted due to the failure to diagnose, the table may be set for a claim of medical malpractice.

When there is a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, this may cause a severe medical setback to the patient. It may create a situation where a serious infection, for example, is allowed to run rampant in the patient's body without any treatment for it. One case that was recently filed illustrates the point.

Crosswalk accident fatality leads to $9.5 million jury verdict

A municipality or state agency can be responsible for paying damages to victims who died or were seriously injured due to road conditions that the government unit should have corrected or repaired. That was essentially what happened in a recent jury verdict that awarded the family of a deceased 62-year-old man $9.5 million in damages against the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in connection with a fatal crosswalk accident. The award came after a two-week jury trial brought by the family in San Mateo County Superior Court.

The man was walking his bike in a crosswalk in Atherton in Sept. 2010 when a vehicle driven by a Stanford man crashed into him. The jury found the driver only 10 percent liable for causing the accident and put the remainder of the blame on Caltrans. The agency promised to install pedestrian-activated stop lights at the intersection in 2012 after two women were seriously injured in the same crosswalk.

Wrongful death claims likely from fatal crash in Folsom

One of the most common scenarios for a car accident in California and elsewhere is the crossover accident. One driver crosses over the yellow line or the median strip and crashes into traffic coming in the other direction. When one or more innocent victims die in the accident, the driver who crossed the yellow line will almost always be liable in a wrongful death claim to the estate of each deceased victim that makes a claim.

A fatal accident in which three persons died occurred recently in Folsom. The driver of a car traveling west crossed over into the east lanes and hit an oncoming vehicle in a head on collision at the Folsom Lake Crossing. There are many causes for this type of fatal accident. Sometimes a driver will be going too fast to negotiate a steep curve in the road. Impairment of the driver is always a leading cause of crossovers  collisions.

Medical malpractice claim settles for compromise of $925,000

Sometimes a defendant doctor will argue that the patient's condition was so severe and critical that nothing could have been done realistically to save that patient. The argument will have to survive the scrutiny of the plaintiff's expert witnesses in order to do the defendant any good. Ultimately, where the parties don't settle, the decision regarding whether the patient's condition was hopeless will be decided by the jury pursuant to California law. If the jury believes the plaintiff's evidence, it will reject the defendant's argument that nothing could be done and will conclude that medical malpractice occurred.

In a case in another state, a doctor and the hospital where he practices settled a wrongful death case for $925,000 prior to going to trial. The suit was brought by the deceased man's surviving wife. The suit claimed that the doctor and the hospital took too long to perform a CT scan when the 51-year-old man went there with severe back pain in 2010.

Medical malpractice statute reduces $1.75 million award

When a patient goes for a standard operation, such as an appendectomy or a hiatal hernia, and the patient dies shortly thereafter, an investigation must be instituted by the next of kin as quickly as possible. There is generally going to be some kind of irregularity that occurred in the procedure, assuming that the death is, in fact, related to the surgery. By getting the facts and the records early, the surviving family of the decedent will be in a much better position to evaluate under California law whether the death was caused by medical malpractice.

In a case in the Los Angeles Superior Court, a jury recently awarded two siblings the sum of $1.75 million for the death of their 44-year-old mother in 2013. The plaintiffs were teenagers at that time. Their mother went to facilities owned by the University of California for a surgical procedure to fix a hiatal hernia. It is alleged that the surgeons failed to observe and diagnose a stomach perforation during the surgery.

Jury gives $53 million award in medical malpractice birth case

After thousands of past cases brought by parents of children suffering brain injury and/or other traumas at birth, our medical care industry seems to be no closer to figuring out how to stop medical negligence during the birth process. The cases are well-documented in California and every other state. Medical malpractice is committed each time that the hospital fails to give the mother and the baby the minimum standard of care that the profession recognizes under the circumstances.

The apparent lack of improvement is more remarkable because some of the largest settlements and jury verdicts have to do with babies who are born with brain damage. Most of these appear to be due to oxygen deprivation at some point prior to and during the delivery. The most recent case involves a jury verdict for $53 million in favor of a mother and her son, who is now 12 years old.

Monetary toll is great when big rigs cause fatal car accidents

Some of the largest economic recoveries from California vehicular accidents involve negligently operated tractor trailers. If the rig was being operated by or on behalf of a large industrial company, there may be very large settlements in car accidents caused by negligent truckers. The prospect of collecting a large settlement, however, may be of little immediate comfort to a surviving husband who has lost his wife and children in a brutally tragic collision.

Such an accident occurred in Los Angeles County on June 28 when a big rig rear-ended a minivan on Gorman School Road at about 4 a.m., killing two mothers and their four children. The truck pushed the van over an embankment, and it burst into flames shortly thereafter. The two fathers in the van survived, only to experience the bitter frustration of trying in vain to extricate their families from the flaming vehicle. Apparently, the van had been in an earlier accident and was sitting stunned between the slow lane and the shoulder when the truck plowed into it.

Car accidents: Man veers into oncoming traffic, leaving 3 dead

Initial press reports regarding an auto accident can be sparse on the facts and even inaccurate in what they do report. With respect to car accidents in California, and other states for that matter, one should not generally make conclusions from short news articles that obviously present a brief summary and nothing else. That being said, a brief news report regarding a recent car crash near Lancaster may nonetheless give a good picture of the allocation of liability between the parties.

If the general scenario of reported facts turns out to be accurate, there will be little doubt that the accident was caused by a driver who veered suddenly into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The crash occurred near Avenue D and the southbound 14 Freeway onramp, according to the California Highway Patrol. A car driven by a 37-year-old male of Palmdale was traveling westbound when it suddenly turned left into the path of an oncoming car driven by a 61-year-old female.

Some California car accidents can be prevented

When a person hears about a tragic, deadly traffic accident in California, it seems like there is nothing to be done about it. Car accidents happen every day, and innocent lives are often lost in the blink of an eye. However, the fact is that many accidents can be prevented if drivers plan ahead and stay alert.

More and more accidents on the highway seem to involve some kind of road rage. While drivers cannot always control the behavior of other drivers, learning to control their own behavior is a good start. Drivers who cannot control their tempers over perceived slights on the road may consider seeking professional help to manage their anger.